Last updated: November 7th, 2020
Please read this document carefully before accessing or using this service!
Most privacy documents are unreadable. They are written by lawyers and for lawyers, and in our opinion are not very effective.
Data protection and privacy are important, and we want you to understand the issues involved. For that reason, we decided to use plain English instead as much as possible to make our documents as clear as they can be.
When you read "the t2bot.io homeserver", "t2bot.io", or "the Service" below, it refers to the services made available at https://t2bot.io and https://t2host.io (and any subdomains of either). These services store your interactions, conversation history, and provide a means of communication via the open Matrix decentralized communication protocol with the public Matrix Network.
The public Matrix Network is a decentralized and openly federated communication network. This means that user messages are replicated on each participant's server and messages posted to a room are visible to all participants including in some cases any new joiners. This is explained further later in this document.
When you read "we", "our", or "us" below it refers to t2bot.io's owners and operators - currently this is a role held solely by Travis Ralston (TravisR, @travis:t2l.io).
TravisR is the Data Controller for the Service. We can be contacted as per the following:
- On Matrix through @travis:t2l.io.
- By email through email@example.com. Please note that email communication is often slower and can have upwards of a 5 business day delay.
Should you have any questions or concerns about this document, please let us know through one of the contact methods above.
This is a living document
This document is constantly evolving and being updated. With your help, we want to make it the best it can be.
If you read something that rubs you the wrong way, or you think something should be added - let us know using the contact methods above. We'd love to chat!
We don't amend this document for any specific users or use case, but if your proposed changes apply to all of our users, we'll happily update it for everyone. Scroll to the bottom to see the history so far.
We will likely improve this document over time and we will take steps to inform our users about any updates. By continuing to use the Service, you implicitly accept the changes we make. If updates to this document are ever associated with significant changes to the way we collect or process your data, we will promptly notify you.
Your access and use of the Service is always subject to the most current version of this document.
Here contains all the information about what we collect and how we use it.
Legal basis for processing
Under the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), we process your data under a Legitimate Interest basis of processing to provide you the Service in an efficient and secure manner and to ensure the legal compliance and proper administration of the Service. Essentially, this means that we process your data only as necessary to deliver the Service and for internal administration purposes, and in a manner that you understand and expect. We also carry out processing that is necessary to provide our Service to you under our Terms and Conditions and processing that is necessary to comply with our legal obligations. Where consent is required by law in relation to certain processing, we will ask for your consent.
We process your information for the purposes of providing our decentralized, openly-federated, and end-to-end encrypted communication Service, getting in touch with you, responding to your requests, working with our suppliers to deliver the Service and enabling its features, ensuring the security of the Service, developing, fixing, and improving our Service, administering our business, and complying with the law.
The nature of the Service and its implementation results in some caveats concerning this processing, particularly in terms of GDPR Article 17 Right to Erasure (Right to be Forgotten). We believe these caveats (described in detail later in this document) are in line with the broader societal interests served by providing the Service.
In situations where the interests of the individual appear to be in conflict with the broader societal interests, we will seek to reconcile those differences guided by our policy.
A note about how the Service works
We do not provide user accounts on our Matrix homeserver for anyone, other than ourselves, to use. The Service does store conversation history from the Matrix Public Network (federation) and third parties when bridged, such as Telegram and Discord.
Your rights as a Data Subject
You have rights in relation to the personal data we hold about you. Some of these only apply in certain circumstances. Some of these rights are explored in more detail elsewhere in this document. For completeness, your rights under GDPR are:
- The right to be informed.
- The right of access.
- The right to rectification.
- The right to erasure.
- The right to restrict processing.
- The right to data portability.
- The right to object.
- Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling.
We may ask for proof of identity before responding to your request. For more details about these rights, please see the guidance provided by the ICO. If you have any questions or are unsure how to exercise your rights, please contact us.
Right to erasure
You can request that we forget copies of your messages and files by contacting us and making the request clear. What happens next depends on who else had access to the messages and files you shared.
Any messages or files that were only accessible by you will be deleted from our servers within 30 calendar days.
Where you shared messages or files with another Matrix user or homeserver, directly or indirectly, the other party may still have a copy of thsoe messages and files. For example, if you messaged another user while the t2bot.io homeserver was in the room, the other participant may still have a copy of your messages although t2bot.io will have deleted them. Similarly, you may still have a copy yourself even if t2bot.io deleted your messages. Apart from state events (see below), these messages and files will not be shared with any new users or unregistered users who view the room after we have processed your request to be forgotten.
State events are processed differently to non-state events. State events are used by the Service to record, amongst other things, your membership in a room, the configuration of room settings, your changing of another user's power level, and your banning a user from a room. Were we to process erasure requests on these state events and delete them from a room entirely, it would be very damaging to other users' experience of the room. For example, banned users could become unbanned, revoking legitimate power levels, etc. We therefore share state events sent by you with all non-essential data removed ("redacted"), even after we have processed your request to be forgotten. This means that your username will continue to be publicly accessible with rooms in which you have participated, even after we have processed your request to be forgotten. The Matrix team is actively working on a solution to work around this restriction and allow you to be fully forgotten while maintaining a high quality experience for other users. If this is not acceptable to you, please do not use the Service.
As described above, erasing a state event may result in our needing to erase the entire conversation history or room from our servers. Deciding whether to take this drastic step will require a balancing exercise to be carried out at the time of the request, and will depend on:
- The nature of the personal data that is being requested to be erased.
- How many other users would have their fundamental rights and freedoms put at risk if the request was exercised as such.
- To what degree these other users would have their fundamental rights and freedoms put at risk if the request was exercised as such.
The personal data contained in a state event is usually limited to the username, the timestamp, and the conversation in which the state event was issued. State events only represent that a user participated in a given conversation at a given time. It is rare that this data is sensitive enough to warrant its erasure given the drastic impact this will have on other users.
Each case is decided upon based on the factors listed above. In most situtations we will not erase state events. In extreme situations, where not erasing state events will place people at material risk of harm, we may choose to erase state events or remove the entire conversation.
Under GDPR you have a right to request a copy of the data we have of yours in a commonly-accepted format. If you would like a copy of your data, please contact us and indicate as such.
What we collect
The information we collect is purely for the purpose of providing a communication service via Matrix. We do not profile users or their data on the Service.
Be aware that while we do not profile users on the Service, third party services may gather usage data. Where our Service gathers usage data, it is anonymized and will ask for your consent before sending it to the relevant party. We do not receive this data.
We also collect information about you when you input it into the Service or otherwise provide it directly to us. Typically, this will be your username on Matrix.
We do not allow account registrations on our Service and therefore do not record such information, unlike what may be collected by other homeservers for their operations.
Some bridges on the Service have a capability to use your real account instead of providing a t2bot.io-hosted proxy account. For example, it is possible to log in with your full Telegram account on t2bot.io's bridge to access Telegram over Matrix, or use your full Matrix account on another homeserver to have messages sent by you in Telegram to appear under your account. In both cases, we record the minimum possible credentials for these features to work. Logging in may also grant us access to more personal information supplied by you, such as your real name, email address, or phone number. We do not store this information unless it is critical for the feature to work.
We store and distribute the messages and files you share using the Service, and across the wider Matrix ecosystem via federation, as described by the Matrix protocol and according to the access rules configured within the system. Storing and sharing this content is the reason the Service exists.
This content includes any information about yourself that you choose to share.
We may need your personal information to establish, bring, or defend legal claims. For this purpose, we will retain your personal information for no longer than 7 years after the date it is no longer needed by us for any purposes listed in this document, as per the statutory recommendations.
Your IP address is logged when you access the Service. This data is used in order to mitigate abuse and debug operational issues. Our logs are kept for no longer than 180 days.
As part of being a participant in the wider Matrix ecosystem, the Service may be required to share your information, messages, and files with users on different homeservers or even other messaging platforms.
Matrix homeservers share user data with the wider ecosystem over federation. When you send messages or files in a room, a copy of the data is sent to all participants in the room, including (depending on room settings) participants who join the room in the future. If these participants are on remote homeservers, your user ID, display name, messages, and files may be replicated across each participating homeserver.
We will forget your copy of your data upon your request. We will also forward your request to be forgotten onto federated homeservers. However, these homeservers are outside our span of control, so we cannot guarantee they will forget your data. Federated homeservers can be located anywhere in the world, and are subject to local laws and regulations.
Access control settings are shared between homeservers, as well as any requests to remove messages by "redactions", or remove personal data under GDPR Article 17 Right to Erasure (Right to be Forgotten). Federated homeservers and Matrix clients which respect the Matrix protocol are expected to honour these controls and redaction/erasure requests, but other federated homeservers are outside of our span of control and thus we cannot guarantee how this data will be processed.
Some Matrix rooms are connected/bridged through to third party services such as IRC networks, Twitter, or email. When a room has been bridged, your username, display name, messages, and files may be duplicated onto the bridged service where supported.
It may not be technically possible to support your management of your data once it has been copied to a bridged service.
Bridged services can be located anywhere in the world and are subject to local laws and regulations.
Requests to delete/erase data through redactions and erasure requests are shared to bridged services, which are expected to honour them to the best of their ability. Be aware that not all bridged networks or bridges support the necessary technical abilities to limit, remove, or erase your data. If this is not acceptable to you, please do not use the Service or bridged rooms.
Integration services (bots and widgets)
We offer a range of integrations in the form of bots and widgets (minature web applications accessed as part of a Matrix client). Bots are automated participants in a room. Both bots and widgets have access to all the messages and files in any room in which they participate, however the Matrix team is working on a more sophisticated access control system.
Transfers of your data
If you use our Service, your data will be transferred outside of the EU to other homeservers and services connected with t2bot.io as this is necessary to provide the Service to you. By the very nature of our Service, such transfers occur regularly and we have no control over the safeguards adopted by third party recipients.
Where we engage suppliers to process your data outside the EU, we will ensure that appropriate safeguards such as the standard contractual clauses are in place.
Sharing your data in compliance with laws
In exceptional circumstances, we may share inforamtion about you with a third party if we believe that sharing is reasonably necessary to comply with any applicable law, regulation, legal process, governmental request, protect the security or integrity of our Service (security audits, for example), protect us and our users from harm or illegal activities, or respond to an emergency which we believe in good faith requires us to disclose information to assist in preventing the serious bodily harm of any person.
Commitment to children's privacy
We never knowingly collect, maintain, or process inforamtion in the Service from those we know are under the age of 16, and no part of the Service is structured to attract anyone under the age of 16. If you are under the age of 16, please do not use the Service.
Updating/Correcting your information
Your information can be updated by you through the service it was originally obtained from. For example, if information about you sent by one of our bridges is incorrect, updating your information on the bridged service will correct the issue.
Visibility of your messages and files
In unencrypted and encrypted rooms, users connecting to our homeserver (over federation) will be able to see messages and files according to the access permissions configuration of the relevant room. This data is stored in a format it was received on our servers, and can be viewed by us under the conditions outlined below.
In encrypted rooms, the data is stored in our databases encrypted but the encryption keys are retained by you. Some of our integrations support encrypted rooms, and they will be able to decrypt any messages or files for which they were supplied keys (the default operating mode of an encrypted room) - they will, however, discard any data not relevant to them once it has been processed.
We use HTTPS to transfer all data. End-to-end encrypted messaging data is stored encrypted using AES-256, using message keys generated using the Olm and Megolm cryptographic ratchets.
How we access your data
We restrict who can access user data internally to roles which require access in order to maintain health of the Service. We have technical procedures in place to prevent unauthorized access to user data. We never share what we see with other users or the general public.
Third parties which may have access to your data
We use secure private keys when accessing servers via SSH, and protect our cloud dashboards with a password managed by a password management tool.
We log application data (username, user IP, and user agent). We keep logs for no longer than 180 days.
Sale of t2bot.io
In the event that we sell or buy any business or assets, we may disclose your personal data to the prospective seller or buyer. If we or substantially all of our assets are acquired by a third party, personal data held by us about our users will be one of the transferred assets.
We do not sell your data for any purpose.
All of our users' data for the Service currently resides in the same database cluster which is due to the nature of our Service. We use software best practices to guarantee that only people who you designate as viewers of your data can access it. In other words, we segment our user data via software. We do our best and are very confident we're doing a good job at it, but, like every other service that hosts their user data on the same database, we cannot guarantee that it is immune to a sophisticated attack.
If you find a security vulnerability with our Service, please report it responsibly per our security disclosure policy.
Making a complaint
We try to meet the highest standards when collecting and using personal information. For this reason, we take any complaints we receive about this very seriously. We encourage people to bring it to our attention by contacting us if they think that our collection or use of information is unfair, misleading, or inappropriate. We would also welcome any suggestions for improving our procedures.
If you want to make a complaint about the way we have processed your personal information to the supervisory authority, you can contact the ICO here.
- November 2020: created.
A note to other startups: this document was heavily inspired by Balsamiq's plain English ToS document. We were impressed by their championing of plain English, and wanted to reproduce that as much as possible in our own legal documentation. Feel free to draw similar inspiration from this document, though be sure to get any documents you produce checked over by a lawyer. Good luck!
This document is heavily inspired by matrix.org's privacy notice.